Category Archives: Beneficial Insects

“Hiring” Some Employees for your Garden

Now this is a tongue in cheek reference making sure you have enough worms and other useful   partners in your garden.
Good soil with plenty of organic material added to build it up and fortify it for current and long term production. Having a compost pile and adding the properly aged compost to the garden builds the  soil and aids in growth and production. BUT WORMS …..

Worms that move into your garden perform 3 basic tasks :

1. Worm “tunnels” allow for beneficial wate and air to get into the soil

2. Worm ‘castings’ ( manure) enrich the soil

3. Worms participate in breaking down organic materials addd to the garden

A gardener can purchase worms but in many cases these will no survive the relocation . Worms can be purchased and used in a vermicomposting system. The best plans for filling a garden with helpful “employees” is to invite them in year round. One trick to invite worms during the growing season is to use worm tubes and veggie kitchen scraps .


Another method is to build up soil in the off season by adding leaves, leaf mold, coffee grounds, compost, kitchen scraps to the garden beds. If the general area soil is healthy Worms will come to materials to be broken down. The worms will stay in The area to aerate th soil and fertilize with castings.


With enough worms, ongoing composting and well planned gardens the soil will become and remain a powerhouse for years to come.
@martyroddy

Coffee to Wake Up …The Garden

Coffee grounds are a great addition to the home garden and the growing plans around the entire yard. If you have discovered a local coffee shop with a supply of grounds ( larger than average family making 1 or 2 pots of coffee a day) and can bring them to your house and garden you now need to know how to use them.

The most obvious is COMPOST. Add the grounds to the pile(they tend to be 2% nitrogen and <1% phosphorous and potassium) and thoroughly mix with leaves, grass, paper, kitchen scraps and seedless weeds from the garden.

This post will be a list and attached articles will fill in some information.

COFFEE GROUNDS from a shop:

1. Add grounds to the compost pile, bin or container. {different blend percentages are suggested- look some up}

  1. Raise your own worms for casings, and the grounds mix well with other food scraps s food for the worms= they love them.
  2. Spread on the lawn, under trees and bushes(heavier for acid loving plants)
  3. Top dress the garden , especially in the offseason, with the grounds. They will break down and add nutrients to the soil
  4. Slugs and snails hate coffee grounds – protect susceptible plants with the grounds
  5. squirrels and rabbits can also be deterred by the grounds underfoot
  6. Acid loving plants will love a ring of grounds that are worked into the ground/soil around the base of the plant .

The following articles address some of these ideas.

The most obvious and simple use is as compost, but The amounts can be important:  

http://www.planetnatural.com/coffee-grounds-compost/

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/composting/ingredients/coffee-grounds-gardening.htm

More than compost- other uses for the grounds: 

http://www.ehow.com/how_8038252_use-coffee-grinds-vegetable-gardens.html

Some plants love the grounds directly on them:

http://thegardeningcook.com/coffee-grounds/

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PLANTING and PLANNING What goes Where??

Now that we have so many diseases and pests in the garden we have to have a planned rotation to prevent damage to the crops and the garden that is the result of a carryover from the previous season.

Some diseases and some “visitors” may remain in the garden over the winter and be prepared when spring returns BUT if the new plants are different and from different species and families the bugs and “bugs” may not be able to bother us.

I keep a schematic from yer to year to facilitate movement planning but this post will address what plants to have close to one another ( to maximize space and create  symbiotic environment  in the garden) because the work well together. .

Many plants thrive when close to each other and other combinations should not be created.

My favorite combos include:

1. I love cabbage (and broccoli,cauliflower,brussels sprouts,kale) so ONIONS, BEETS ,CUCUMBER, and some herbs fill the partner role.

2. I also love squash so partners include:  NASTURTIUM,ONIONS,OREGANO. If planting on hills or mounds- melons are a great teammate.

3.  and of course for Tomatoes: I am partial to ONIONS/GARLIC, BASIL AND OREGANO . Especially when harvested they can be used for many dishes.  Other useful partners include borage, peppers, parsley and bee balm.

These plants are good companions because they share soil nutrients, repel invaders from one another, and in many cases they fill all available surface preventing weeds.

I rarely plant something by itself( other than roses- which are quite selfish in the soil).. I like the idea of biointensive planting and harvesting as much as possible from each available foot in the garden.  Many of these plants also host useful/helpful insects.

What do you like to grow?  Why?

What partners does your favorite have?

Recently found a chart with a nice summary- not much explanation but a good listing.

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/vgen/companion-vegetable-garden.htm

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Be Cheap – Feeding, Weeding and Wrangling Insect Visitors

Now this blog is about gardening  without a crazy amount of investment in supplies, tools and equipment. This post and a few that follow will focus on inexpensive fertilizers, insect controls and weed preventers.

Many of the mixes and suggestions use inexpensive household items and provide help in the garden for 50% -20% of the standard store bought mixes and products.

The homemade mixes will include[but not be limited to] :

Other plants, vinegar, ammonia, epsom salts, insects, birds, bats, other plants,  cut grass , fallen leaves, beer, pantyhose , newspaper, grits, mouthwash, kitchen soap   and some others.

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“Hiring” Helpers for the Garden..Less than $100 a year

I have been a fan of worms in the garden and  as part of my gardening team.

Worms ( red wigglers -Eisenia foetida ) are a great resource for Vermicompopsting or Worm Composting. The worms compost the food scraps , leaves, grass and orther compostables and create a “delicious” and powerful garden fuel. The castings are essentially worm manure and this manure is great with seeds or plants, brwed into a compost tea or use to top dress potted plants.

A pound of red wiggler works can be ordered for an estimated $22-40 depending on the source and location. A bin to keep the worms and their castings can be purchased or made-the investment here can be $5-100.

If you choose not to hire the worms you can buy the worm castings from several sources.

http://www.planetnatural.com/composting-101/vermicomposting/

http://www.planetnatural.com/product/red-wiggler-worms/

The other employees to “hire” are known as beneficial insects- These are “bugs” that will prey upon the pests in your garden. And can be purchased , or caught and relocated in your garden or lured into the neighborhood. I will focus ona few favorites and buying them.

Some Helper Insect information:    http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/top-10-beneficial-bugs-garden

http://www.arbico-organics.com/category/beneficial-insects-predators-parasites

In addition to worms the insects I have worked with are ladybugs ( ladybeetles) , praying mantis and green lacewings.  They are helpful in the garden and they are attractive. Since I continually encounter them as I plant , weed and harvest – it is fun to know they are there-helpimng- and they are nice to look at.

http://www.arbico-organics.com/product/ladybird-beetle-ladybugs-hippodamia-convergens

http://www.arbico-organics.com/category/Green-Lacewings-chrysoperla-beneficial-insects

http://www.groworganic.com/praying-mantids-case-of-approx-200-eggs.html

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